Valentine’s Day, Pagans, Catholics, and Protestants
Women love Valentine’s Day because it is an excuse for them to get dressed up and be doted upon. The Catholic Church loves Valentine’s Day because they invented it. It’s safe to say that people get stoked for Feb. 14, but does anyone know why?The history of Valentine’s Day is cloaked in mystery.
Nobody can pinpoint precisely where the holiday originated or who is to blame for the shrouds of pink and red that adorn storefronts and classrooms in February. February, however, has been a month for romance, dating back to the Roman Empire.
The author of that article is correct that Valentine’s Day actually has its origins in the old Roman Empire. And while it is true that the Church of Rome actually came up with the name “Valentine’s Day”, to say that it loves it now seems to be a stretch.
Notice what the Roman Catholics teach,
The roots of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on Feb. 15. For 800 years the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year
That the same Catholic source states,
The Catholic Church no longer officially honors St. Valentine, but the holiday has both Roman and Catholic roots.
It is good that the Church of Rome no longer officially honors Valentine or the holiday. Yet, despite that, I saw advertisements for Valentine’s Day gifts at the (private, not official, Catholic) newadvent.org website at the end of the article in The Catholic Encyclopedia article on Valentine. So, apparently at least one Catholic webmaster probably hopes that some will celebrate it
And this is sadly the case for many Protestants. Even though it recognizes certain pagan practices were the root of Valentine’s Day, the falsely labeled Christianity Today is still promoting some jewelry purchases on its “Valentine’s Day” page.
Of course, there is no evidence that Valentine’s Day was ever adopted by any COG throughout the ages (for some specific beliefs/practices during the church age, please see the article The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3)–and that would make sense as it is not a biblical holy day.
So, if it is not from the Bible, what are the origins of Valentine’s Day?
The old World Book Encyclopedia (Valentine’s Day. Volume 19. 1966, pp.205-206) states,
…the customs of the day have nothing to do with the lives of the saints. They probably come from an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia which took place every February 15. The festival honored Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage, and Pan, the god of nature…The Romans celebrated their feast of Lupercalia as a lovers’ festival for young people. Young men and women chose partners for the festival by drawing names from a box…After the spread of Christianity, churchmen tried to give Christian meaning to the pagan festival. In 496, Pope Gelasius changed the Lupercalia festival of February 15 to Saint Valentine’s Day February 14. But the sentimental meaning of the old festival has remained to the present time. Historians disagree about the identity of St. Valentine”.
Furthermore it also states,
“LUPERCALIA…was celebrated on February 15 in honor of Faunus, a rural Italian god. Faunus was later identified with Pan, the god of herds and fertility…Priests…ran around striking all the women the met (Lupercalia. Volume 12. 1966, p.456).
The pagan being named Cupid (a supposed son of Venus) was also involved. According to pagan mythology, anyone being hit by Cupid’s arrow falls in love with the first person he/she sees. One source was bold enough to state,
The church replaced elements of various love-gods (Juno Februata, Eros, Cupid, Kama, Priapus) with St. Valentine, an imaginary Christian. A number of contradictory biographies were created for him…By taking over some of the features of the Pagan gods and goddesses, St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers…St. Valentine’s Day can be traced back to Lupercalia, the Roman “festival of sexual license” (ST. VALENTINE AND VALENTINE’S DAY, http://www.religioustolerance.org/valentine1.htm, February 6, 2004).
Does Valentine’s Day sound like a holy festival of love or a pagan holiday of lust?
Notice also the following:
The Feast of Lubercus The first interpretation has this celebration originating as a pagan tradition in the third century. During this time hordes of hungry wolves roamed outside of Rome where shepherds kept their flocks. The God Lupercus, was said to watch over the shepherds and their flocks and keep them from the wolves. Every February the Romans celebrated a feast called Lupercalia to honor Lupercus so that no harm would come to the shepherds and their flocks. Also during Lupercalia, but in honor of the goddess Juno Februata, the names of young women were put into a box and names were drawn by lot. The boys and girls who were matched would be considered partners for the year, which began in March. This celebration continued long after wolves were a problem to Rome. — St. Valentine’s Day As Christianity became prevalent, priests attempted to replace old heathen practices. To Christianize the ancient pagan celebration of the Feast of Lubercus, the church officials changed the name to St. Valentine’s Day. To give the celebration further meaning and eliminate pagan traditions, priests substituted the drawing of Saints names for the names of the girls. On St. Valentine’s Day the priest placed saint’s names into an urn or box. The young people then drew a name from the container. In the following year, the youth was supposed to emulate the life of the saint whose name he had drawn. By the fourteenth century they reverted back to the use of girl’s names. In the sixteenth century they once again tried to have saintly valentines but it was as unsuccessful as the first attempt. While it can’t be proved historically, there were seven men named Valentine who were honored with feasts on February 14th. Of these men, two stories link incidents that could have given our present day meaning to St. Valentine’s Day…—-February 14th – The Day the Birds Began to Mate The Europeans also believed that on February 14th the birds began to choose their mates. In fact Chaucer, in his “Parlement of Foules,” wrote: “For this was Seynt Valentine’s Day when every foul cometh ther to choose his mate”…The tradition of birds choosing their mates on St. Valentine’s Day led to the idea that boys and girls would do the same. Now when a youth drew a girl’s name, he wore it on his sleeve, and attended and protected her during the following year. This made the girl his valentine and they exchanged love tokens throughout the year. Later this was changed to only men giving love tokens to females, usually without names but signed “with St. Valentine’s Love.” Later, in France, both sexes drew from the valentine box. A booked called Travels in England, written in 1698, gives an account of the way it was done: On St. Valentine’s Eve an equal number of Maids and Bachelors get together, each writes their true or some feigned name upon separate billets, which they roll up and draw by way of lots, the Maids taking the Men’s billets, and the Men the Maids’; so that each of the young Men lights upon a Girl that he calls his Valentine, and each of the Girls upon a young Man which she calls hers. By this means each has two Valentines–but the Man sticks faster to the Valentine that is fallen to him than to the Valentine to whom he is fallen. Fortune having thus divided the company into so many couples, the valentines give balls and treats to their mistresses, wear their billets several days upon their bosoms or sleeves, and this little sport often ends in Love. This ceremony is practised differently in different Countries, and according to the freedom or severity of Madame Valentine. This is another kind of Valentine, which is the first young Man or Woman chance throws in your way in the street, or elsewhere . . . (The Origins of Valentine’s Day. http://www.techdirect.com/valentine/origin.html, January 31, 2004).
Anyway, the preceding article mentions those three as the possible origins of Valentine’s day. Actually all three of those are to some degree correct (and World Book Online, in its article Valentine’s Day–which I checked on February 6, 2004–says that some believe that all three played a role in the origins)–Valentine’s day was a pagan holiday that the Catholic Church modified and that most Protestants embrace, which is probably why some Europeans also declared that to be the day the birds mated (birds mate pretty much every day in some part of Europe, so its seems disingenuous to coincidentally declare it on February 14).
Another source adds,
The roots of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to pagan festivals of third century Rome. February 14th was set aside as a day to honor the goddess Juno, who was the queen of the Roman gods and goddesses and was the goddess of women and marriage. This day was also the eve of the Feast of Lupercalia. This festival was in honor of the god Lubercus (The History of Valentine’s. http://www.christinescyberuniverse.com/VDay/VdayHistory.html, January 31, 2004).
And who was Juno?
JUNO was the queen of heaven and wife of Jupiter (Zeus)…The ancient Greeks called her HERA (Juno. World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 11. 1966, pp.162-163).
A holiday for the queen of heaven!
What does God say about that?
…the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger. Do they provoke Me to anger?” says the LORD. “Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?” (Jeremiah 7:18-20, NKJV)
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: ‘You and your wives have spoken with your mouths and fulfilled with your hands, saying, “We will surely keep our vows that we have made, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her.” You will surely keep your vows and perform your vows!’ “Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: ‘Behold, I have sworn by My great name,’ says the LORD, ‘that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, “The Lord GOD lives.”‘Behold, I will watch over them for adversity and not for good. And all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, until there is an end to them” (Jeremiah 44:25-28, NKJV).
In other words, God was not happy that people wanted to worship the queen of heaven and He would punish them for it.
Does God Approve of Using Pagan Practices to Worship Him?
Notice that the Bible repeatedly warns against using pagan practices to worship God:
29 When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it (Deuteronomy 12:29-32, NKJV).
2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe (Jeremiah 10:2-3, KJV).
…abstain from things offered to idols (Acts 15:29, NKJV).
But because most who profess Christianity do not heed these warnings, they are disobeying God’s instructions.
Look at some of what the Muslims say about Valentine’s Day,
Celebrating the Valentine Day is not permissible because: Firstly, it is an innovated holiday that has no basis in the Sharee`ah…Christians were aware of the Pagan roots of Valentine’s Day. The way the Christians adopted St. Valentine’s Day should be a lesson for Muslims. In fact, the failure to fully separate Valentine’s Day from its pagan roots explains why Islamic scholars and a number of Muslims avoid adopting traditions of non-Muslims, even though they could possibly be Islamicized…We should avoid anything associated with pagan immoral practices – We do not need to honour or celebrate the death of a Christian “saint” – Islam does not encourage flirting or suggestions of romantic relationships before marriage – Love between families, friends and married people does not need to be celebrated on a day with such un-Islamic origins (Ruling on Celebrating Valentine’s Day. http://www.contactpakistan.com/news/news144.htm, January 31, 2004).
In other words, Valentine’s Day causes the name of Christ (through the term ‘Christianity’) to be blasphemed among the Gentiles (Romans 2:24; Isaiah 52:5)!
Even the Muslims can see that the hypocrisy in this.
How does this pagan holiday help get the true gospel out?
It does not.
And that is the point.
The Bible never indicates that Christians should celebrate anything like St. Valentine’s Day. Thus, the celebration of Valentine’s Day is not enjoined on believers–even if there is some controversy associated with some of the history of it.
The Bible is clear that God is not pleased with activities that honor the ‘Queen of Heaven’.
Valentine’s Day began as a pagan courtship and sex holiday. Valentine’s Day does not honor God nor does its current observance actually honor any saint.
No real Christian should take any part in such celebrations.